When you're in the company of Archie Andrews, the Riverdale sun shines just a little brighter. Pop's milkshakes taste just a little sweeter. He's one Disney princess dress away from having an entourage of singing little birdies. Archie is the golden boy of Riverdale. He's an all-star athlete, possesses a chiseled rack of abs, and seems to have a cat's nine lives as the boy has more enemies than Riverdale has maple trees. But those who aren't trying to snuff out the young lad's life simply adore him. Especially the women. He's dated or at least kissed, at least half the women in town. That statistic gets more impressive every day, given Riverdale's alarming mortality rate. Whether it's to date him or to kill him, everybody wants a piece of the Red Paladin.
Yet, if a Red Paladin seems too good to be true, he probably is. Sure, Archie is well-intentioned...when he feels like it. You might find it easy to buy into Archie's persona as the affable everyman, with the "aww shucks" grin and earnest gaze. Well, don't. You're flat wrong. Archie Andrews is a jerk, and here's why.
For the love of Sweetwater River, the entire series kicks off with Archie ditching his best friend. He and Jughead planned a Fourth of July road trip, just the two of them. Jughead was going through a rough time at home and could have really used the vacation. But inconsiderate Archie cancels their trip so he can go mack on his teacher Ms. Grundy in the woods. Later, the doomed lovers lie about their whereabouts to the police during the investigation of Jason Blossom's murder.
Maybe Archie being hot for teacher made him delirious. But then there was Jughead's birthday party. It looked like Archie was being a good buddy, warning Betty that Jughead doesn't enjoy celebrating his birthday. But as soon as the kegs show up, Archie's whipping off his shirt and pounding beers with his football buddies. He turns Jughead's birthday into a fraternity party, making Archie the world's worst friend/party host.
Can everyone agree that Archie's burgeoning music career was by far the most boring storyline Riverdale has ever seen? And the most infuriating to boot, after the dissolution of the Pussycats. Just like Yoko to the Beatles, Archie can't be entirely blamed for this. The Pussycats had lots of problems—*cough* Josie's ego *cough*—but he sure didn't calm anything down when he asked Valerie to help him write songs.
For a while, it really looked like Justin Gingerlake—thanks for that, Josie—was serious about his music. He was looking to get into the prestigious summer music program at Brandenburg Academy and maybe even study music in college. But then he straight-up told Hiram Lodge that he was done with music, as if all that hard work and effort—from other people—was for nothing. That's a common theme of Archie's. Everything he does is for nothing.
Sadly, we're still in the age of relic dating customs, like the nauseating one where the dad threatens his daughter's potential suitor with a shotgun. Still, murder threatening aside, it speaks to Archie's character that he wants to give a good impression to the Lodges. Hiram doesn't make it easy, but Archie puts up a dogged fight to earn his respect and eventually becomes Hiram's most trusted crony. Archie refuses to listen to his much-smarter pal Jughead, who insists Hiram is up to no good. Instead, Archie goes all in with Hiram and swears his loyalty to him in a blood ceremony. Was there no cloak and dagger nearby? Archie also burns his journal, containing detailed reports of all the Lodges' underhanded activity.
Archie Andrews showing good judgment? Fuhgeddaboudtit.
Simmer down, Archie. It's understandable that he's angry and fired-up after the Black Hood shoots his dad. Of course he wants to do something. But the best thing in this instance is to listen to Sheriff Keller and leave the investigative work to the police. Well too bad, Keller, because Archie loves his papa and hates common sense. He recruits the football team into a secret society, the self-congratulatorily named Red Circle. Initially, the group is meant to be a brawny neighborhood watch, keeping people safe from the Black Hood. Though dangerous and against police orders, Archie and the Circle's heads are in the right places.
Eventually things devolve into gang wars with the Southside Serpents. His original mission forgotten, Archie goes around the Southside, tagging buildings with the Red Circle's logo. When interrupted, he pulls a gun on Sweet Pea. Oh, but Archie's doing it for his dad, so that makes it okay.
Here, Archie finds himself in a romantic pickle. His good friend Betty likes him, but he doesn't return her feelings. This is never easy, as Betty will be hurt no matter what. But, leave it to Archie let her down in the most moronic way possible. His response to Betty: "I'm not good enough for you." This may seem like a compliment via rejection, but this statement puts the onus on Betty. Like, maybe they would work out if Betty wasn't so "good". For the record, Archie is totally correct, but that's beside the point.
Then there's The Kiss. Yes, Betty kissed Archie. But he hardly shut it down. Fine, fine, emotions were running high, they were hot on the Black Hood's heels, blah, blah, blah. But Veronica and Archie and Betty and Jughead had all been broken up for what? A total of five minutes? Did Archie not think it was at all a bad idea to make out with Betty, who's admitted her feelings for him, and is the ex-girlfriend of Archie's best friend Jughead? Archie should hope the word "ramifications" isn't on his SATs.
The Jalopy-gate incident was a gut-punch to watch. Good ol' pull-himself-up-by-his-bootstraps Fred Andrews wanted his son's first car to be a fixer-upper so they could fix it up together, father and son. But Archie had already moved out and made a new home for himself in Hiram's pocket. Hiram killed two birds with one stone by gifting Archie a shiny new Firebird: he rewarded Archie for his loyalty and was able to cause major strife between Fred and Archie. Archie also metaphorically spat in Fred's face by not attending the announcement of Fred's mayoral campaign.
In the wake of Luke Perry's tragic passing, audiences are happy that father and son mended fences when they still had the chance.
Mary Andrews is the matron saint of Riverdale law. Anytime someone's falsely accused of murder, she comes rushing back to town. When Hiram frames Archie for murder—see what a good idea it was to hop into bed with him, Archie?—Mary, of course, defends her son. The verdict was deadlocked with the judge declaring a mistrial. Before Mary could breathe a word, the DA offered Archie a reduced sentence, two years in a juvenile correctional facility. Archie the Reactionary jumps up and says he'll take the deal.
This knee-jerk decision came from a good place, of Archie wanting to spare his family and friends the misery of a mistrial. But shouldn't he have at least...spoken to his lawyer first? Isn't that what most responsible people do? Yes. The answer is yes. Alas, Archie Andrews is a doer, not a thinker.
Archie may act like he has high morals, but he'd sell them for a song—hey, then he'd be able to play his guitar! For a brief while, he became Cheryl's pet after she gave him an expensive guitar. That went by the wayside, but Archie's price tag did not. After getting out of juvie, Archie was all about boxing, getting Tom Keller to be his coach. Then mini-mobster Elio offers Archie a bribe: three thousand dollars for him to take a fall in the next match. Archie says yes right away.
Umm...why? Sure, anybody would want three grand but why would Archie stoop so low for something so risky, especially when he just assured Tom he was serious about boxing? This makes no sense, which falls right in line with Archie's thought process.
According to Veronica, La Bonne Nuit is a booze-free joint. However, lately the viewer has seen some pretty frisky ginger ale shots being passed around. When Archie gets back from being mauled by a bear in Canada—surely the bear apologized to him after—he finds his life in shambles and his relationship with Veronica in the gutter. So what's a hardened sixteen-year-old supposed to do but drown his sorrows?
Look, being wanted for murder and bandied about by a bear is tough stuff, so nobody blames the kid for taking a couple swigs of booze. But to get positively pie-eyed at his ex-girlfriend's establishment and then get belligerent about it makes viewers want to hurl. Archie probably did.
Bottom line, Archie Andrews isn't a perfect person. But under his layers—and layers and layers...and layers—of flaws, Archie has a good heart. But even that's a flaw unto its self, because it makes Archie way too trusting. With the resurgence of Gryphons & Gargoyles, factions upon factions of players are trying to kill Archie, the Red Paladin. So what does Archie do when he meets an orphan with a sob story? Ignores the target on his back and invites Little Orphan Ricky into his home. What could go wrong? Oh, perhaps getting stabbed.
As many enemies as Archie has, none pose a greater threat than the Red Paladin himself.